It was great to see The Walking Dead making a long-awaited return to form with last week’s killer episode. The tension and anguish on display in this season’s fifth installment harked back to the show’s good old days, as fans waited to see how Andrew Lincoln would give his final appearance as tormented ex-sheriff Rick Grimes. But whilst the show-runners can be praised for how they handled Rick’s departure, the circumstances in which another character has left the show leave a great deal to be desired.
Production recently started on ABC’s new project, Whisky Cavalier, a drama that will focus on the ups and downs experienced by the agents of an FBI Field Office. The female lead for the show is none other than Lauren Cohan, who is currently off filming scenes in a variety of exotic locations, and it’s the scheduling conflicts that this has created which mean that she has also now left TWD at the same time as Andrew Lincoln.
It’s the manner in which Cohan has exited the show though that has more than a few fans upset, detracting from the great success of the last episode. Whilst Rick literally went to hell and back, before being abducted by a mystery enemy and flown away in a helicopter, the way Cohen’s character Maggie Greene bowed out was considerably more anticlimactic.
Maggie does feature heavily in the events of the episode, making her way to Alexandria for a long-awaited showdown with her husband’s murderer, Negan. After a painful exchange, she chooses to spare the psychotic villain’s life, and manages to make her way back to the bridge in time to see Rick apparently killed. And then, well, she just gets written out…
In the aftermath of Rick’s ‘death’, the show’s writers have chosen to jump proceedings forward several years, where we now find a teenage Judith saving a group of new zombie-fodder from a marauding hoard. There’s then a quick trailer for the events of the rest of the season, which finally teases the arrival of new villains The Whisperers, but Maggie is nowhere to be seen.
A couple of days after the episode aired, producer Angela Kang confirmed in an interview with THR that Cohen had indeed left the show:
“That’s the last of her for this season… I would hope it’s not the last you’ll see of her for the show, but she is not in any immediately forthcoming episodes.”
The show has always relied heavily on Cohan’s audience appeal, focusing on the loss of her father and her husband, as well as her ideological issues with Rick. And whilst the decision to not give her a formal exit does leave the room needed to bring her back at a future point, it’s hardly a fitting or deserving end to her time in the series.
With the recent announcement that there are a slew of new movies planned for The Walking Dead, and also the ability to transfer the character to sister show Fear The Walking Dead, there’s every chance we’ll get to see Cohen play Maggie again, but given the franchise’s ongoing decline in viewing figures, that’s no certainty.